The current issues between the Government of Ontario and the Education unions are interesting. This populist government, led by a semi-literate boor, has appointed as Education Minister an individual whose only qualification is an undergraduate degree in political science, ably assisted by his parliamentary assistant who has no post-secondary qualification whatsoever.

Such an issue might not be too much of a problem if the Minister was adequately advised and chose to follow that advice. It appears that such has not been the case. In particular, I refer to the requirement for high school students to complete two online courses during their secondary school studies.

I am a strong advocate for e-learning. I have designed, developed, and delivered a number of such courses in post-secondary and corporate environments over that last few years and have noted a number of things:

  • Good instructional design is critical
  • Students must exercise a great deal of self-discipline
  • Engagement is a key factor in student success
  • Small class sizes are important to maintain communication and provide support.

The vast majority of online courses extant fail to address many of these necessities. They assume that teachers who are adept at classroom delivery can also teach online. They assume that classroom delivery strategies will also work online. Larger class sizes are not necessarily possible with online courses. Perhaps the biggest mistake is failing to engage the students when they have so many other online diversions and perhaps do not have the self-discipline to complete a course on their own. For many students, requiring online courses sets them up to fail.

E-learning courses should be widely available in the high school curriculum. Making them mandatory represents a failure to deliver courses in a way that will provide the greatest diversity of learning options for the students, limiting their likelihood of success.

However, we know that student success has never been a concern for this Conservative government. They understand only power and money. While we are not in a position to deny them power for another couple of years, through protest the money can be restrained. The Conservatives have demonstrated their interest in enriching the lives of their cronies through the reallocation of funds that now benefit the masses. However, even they are not so stupid as to ignore the people if those people protest a wrong action en masse. As citizens of this province, we need to continue that protest of this gutting of the educational system until that destruction stops.

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